Saturday, April 28, 2012

IHSA Has No Clue--AGAIN!

The Illinois High High School Association has struck again!

The governing body for high school sports in Illinois refuses to move its 2A/3A combined, DAYTIME, girls track sectional on May 10th in order to accommodate the Advanced Placement English Literature Examination.  Students take the AP literature test  on the same day throughout the country.

According to Friday's Chicago Sun-Times, Glenbard South volunteered to host the Fenwick High School sponsored meet because Glenbard has lights, and Concordia University, where the meet is scheduled to be held, does not.

The IHSA said "no!"  The meet stays at Concordia.

That means girls track athletes like Elmwood Park senior Patricia Wojcik will be forced to choose between competing in the sectional track meet or taking the AP test.

Elmwood Park's Patricia Wojcik
Patricia should not have to make that choice.  The IHSA should move the meet to Glenbard South and run it at night.  Taking kids out of school when they don't have to be taken out is just plain stupid.  Golfers have to miss school because golf courses aren't lighted; most tracks are lit!

The IHSA used to hold its track sectionals on Fridays and Saturdays, but the meets bumped up against proms so the IHSA  moved the meets to weekdays and held them at night on lighted tracks.

And as you probably know, Advanced Placement English Examinations are critical to the success of bright high school seniors.  Getting a score of 4 or 5 on the test guarantees students college credit and saves parents a ton of money.  I taught the AP English lit. class at Fremd for almost 20 years and saw some students get almost two years college credit taking exams from Biology to Macro-Economics to English Literature. 

This is only one in long line of transgressions committed by the IHSA.  I've been watching their decisions for 50 years, and I still can't figure the organization out. 

Rock Island High School's girls basketball team practiced before the mandated date in 2008, and also scrimmaged against an Iowa high school team early--both IHSA violations.  Guess what happened to Rock Island?  The school was given a regional to host in February 2009.  Rock Island was rewarded for cheating!  Rock Island even hosted the girls regional last February.


Marshall High School's 1958 state champs
Jack Drees
When I was a kid everyone watched the IHSA state high school basketball tournament.  When Marshall played Rock Falls for the state championship at old Huff Gym at the U. of Illinois in March of 1958,  I was nine-years old, sitting with my mom and dad, rooting for Marshall while my parents cheered for Rock Falls.  Marshall won!  Jack Drees was on the play-by-play, and the game was broadcast in beautiful black and white.  Everybody watched!  It was like the Super Bowl.

In 1972 the IHSA instituted a two-class basketball tournament, which was a mistake; however interest in the smaller schools' tournament remained high.  If there was a Galesburg or a Quincy playing in the big school tournament, the crowds were good.  If the teams were from the inner suburbs or the Chicago Public League, the crowds were much lower.

Now, the IHSA has killed both the boys and girls basketball tournaments by adding two more classes for a total of four.  Finding the game on television was extremely difficult this year.  The tournament games were on Channel 5-2 in Chicago, and on Channel 18-2 in the Quad Cities.  The Quad City feed wasn't even in HD.  I'll bet you didn't see any of the games.  Can you name the 2012 girls or boys 4A champ?  I can't!

The stands at the Redbird Arena (girls) at ISU and at the Peoria Civic Center (boys) were empty this year, which was a far cry from my first trip to the Assembly Hall in Champaign in 1976 to broadcast the tournament for WGIL Radio in Galesburg.  Then, the boys tourney was a sell-out.  Coaches used to be able to scalp their extra tickets and pay for their cocktails in Champaign.

When I was in high school between 1962 and 1966, the boys basketball tournament was a one-class affair.  The small schools around Crystal Lake played in a district tournament, and the winner was seeded into the regional.  I remember watching Richmond-Burton High School play Elgin High School in 1964 when I was a sophomore, and Crystal Lake High School hosted the regional.

Richmond-Burton got killed by the Elgin Maroons, but twelve years earlier, in 1952, a team from Hebron came into Crystal Lake,  won the regional, and then went on to become the only small school to win the state tournament.  What magic that was!

Hebron's 1952 starting five.
I was only four years old, but I can remember the Hebron team coming into downtown Crystal Lake on the way home from Champaign.  The streets were packed with fans.  Crystal Lake had been the only team to defeat Hebron that year during the regular season.

Now what do we remember about the IHSA basketball tournament?  Not much.  The IHSA has killed the interest, and today the boys tournament bumps up against the NCAA men's tournament so nobody pays attention except for the schools involved. 

I'd say the IHSA should just do the opposite of what it thinks is the right decision, but that would be too easy.  What the IHSA needs to do Monday morning is to move the 2A/3A track meet to Glenbard South so that Patricia Wojcik can take the AP test.

Then the IHSA should fine Rock Island High School for illegal practices and NOT allow a regional to be held at Rock Island for at least ten years.

Finally, the IHSA should revive the interest in the state basketball tournament by returning to the one-class system.

I can imagine my grandchildren and I watching in 2019 as Williamsfield (enrollment 90) defeats Fremd (enrollment 2,800).

We would never forget that game!  And just think of the TV ratings!


  1. Jim, you are right about the conflicts. When I taught music, organization contest was always held across the state on the same day and it always conflicted with one of the major FFA in small schools had to make a choice while it barely had any effect on larger schools from suburbia. Most of my band kids were from farms and intended to stay in the family business and opted for FFA. The AP exam is another example. I realize there are only so many days and weeks in the year so the IHSA must try to remain consistent. As for the state tournament, I'm living in Missouri now and was able to get it on the internet the last few years, but for some reason, that did not work out this year. IHSA is only about the money made from its events, just like the NCAA. It is too bad there are not alternatives for teams and individuals to participate on their own terms. I like the class system, but 4 classes is probably too much.

  2. Thanks for your comment, MVP. It's a turf war--that's for sure, and the IHSA needs to be aware of all the conflicts. Sadly, I don't think they care.

  3. So it was my senior year of girls softball and as the captain I was naturally expected to be at every game, but I had an AP test the same day as the final game needed to go to the playoffs. So I was in a bit of a jam, I had to decide whether to go to the AP test that I knew my public school education didnt prepare me for (long story)or go to my game (which was probably more important to me anyway). My logic says go to the game, but when I informed the AP coordinator at my school that I couldnt make it he said, "Well then I need eighty dollars from you." Apparently since my school is so underprivleged, someone covers all the test fees as long as we take the test so that way they can prove that not all the students in their school are morons.When I told my mom about the "opt out fee" obviously said no, and I didnt blame her considering the school fee for the year was only 75 bucks. Anyway I had to take the test in the field house of the park that I was supposed to play at which added insult to injury, looking out the window watching my team get ready to play as I was stuck in a room skimming through the doodles that I had drawn all over my test booklet. But, luckily the umpire for the game knew me and was willing to stall the game for 30 minutes, which was okay with my opponets coach because some of her players were rushing to make it as well. After the game, that we won because of my squeeze bunt =), the coaches and umpires talked about their frustration with the league and how they should schedule the games according to the ap test schedule. After about thirty minutes they came to the conclusion that the IHSA really doesnt care that much about the athletes, and that unless coaches, parents, and some rule-breaking umpires work together students like myself will be denied all the benefits that being a student-athlete brings.

    1. Santiago on the blog!!!! All right!

  4. The four-class system hasn't killed interest in high school basketball. The IHSA hasn't killed interest in high school basketball. America's infatuation with satellite TV, the Internet, and checking our smart phones every 30 seconds is what killed interest in high school basketball. Everyone complains that state finals attendance is down because of the four-class system. Isn't attendance down at regular season games as well? How about all those Galesburg Silver Streaks season ticket holders from years gone by? Where are they? Did the four-class system kill them off? No, it was mainly old age. New fans aren't coming around because instead of going to Thiel Gym, they can check in on seven hundred other things at the same time while they sit on the couch with smart phone in hand, computer in lap, and satellite TV in the background.